I recently finished reading All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. It was good. It had received a ton of hype, so I was a little nervous I’d be disappointed when I read it, but it delivered. There were a lot of interesting aspects of the book. The characters were well drawn, and I felt a connection with each of them. The plot kept consistent momentum. But the most fascinating thing for me, maybe because I write, was the successful juggling.
When I got to about the middle of the book, I found myself shocked at just how many balls Doerr had in the air. There are fourteen characters who were developed enough to have an arc. It’s no War & Peace, but that’s a lot. There’s the war. There are at least four important locations. There’s the museum and Etienne’s home that deserve special mention. And there’s the Sea of Flames and the legend behind it. That’s a lot going on. I kept reading because the plot had me hooked, but I also wanted to see which of those balls got dropped and none of them did.
There are also a lot of fancy literary techniques in the book. I’m not usually a big fan of fancy writing. I prefer simple and to the point. But they work here. Time is not linear in All the Light We Cannot See. It’s all set in France and Germany during WWII, but it jumps around within that time. Also, it is told from varying perspectives. Marie Laure and Werner are the main protagonists, and most of the book switches between their perspectives. But there are chapters from Jutta, Etienne, and even von Rumpel. It’s never dizzying, though.
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So, that’s about all I have to say right now. All the Light We Cannot See is well worth a read. It may seem intimidating from what I’ve said, but it’s really not. There are many bite-sized chapters, so the reader never gets bogged down. I hope you enjoy it.